How to teach your supporters be influential storytellers for your nonprofit

Team DonorDrive

Team DonorDrive

Our brains are built for receiving stories. The reason we hover over our phones watching videos is the same reason why primitive humans gathered around a fire listening to tales. Our brains are wired for receiving and remembering information through stories. Stories connect a tiny emotional area of the brain called the insula in both the teller and listener. We’re ten times as likely to remember a story as we are a statistic. 

Stories play a big role in giving. Research shows that people are far more likely to donate to a cause after experiencing an emotionally impactful story. That’s why teaching your supporters to be good storytellers can have a big impact on the revenue they raise. Here are some pointers to guide your supporters in how to tell a story:

Start with why 

Supporters often don’t know how to start a story. Have them begin with why they got involved with your nonprofit. Usually the story naturally follows and it becomes their friends’ connection to your mission.

Tell a happy tale

Don’t give supporters sad plot lines focused on the problem instead of the solution. Give them success stories that make donors feel good about your nonprofit and will make their friends feel good about giving.

Give success stats 

People love when you’re winning the battle. Here are a few of the positive messages DonorDrive clients are using:

  • Every second a child enters a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for life-giving treatment. 
  • World Vision has helped over 15.4 million disaster survivors and refugees.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has saved countless lives through research, awareness and education. 

These stats inspire hope, leave donors with a positive experience, encourage them to give again, and motivate them to get further involved with your mission.

Ask for specific amounts 

Encourage your supporters to set expectations. When they ask for specific dollar amounts, many of their donors will honor their request. Also let your participants know that self-donations for the amount their asking for can have a big impact. That way they can say: “I gave $100 and I hope you will too.” Make sure you have a button on your donation in the amount you suggest participants ask for. 

Update their page 

When supporters update their page with fundraising and training progress, they encourage return visits by their friends. With many donors on mobile and easily distracted, they often don’t give on the first visit to the page, but give on a later visit. Let your participants know to send an email to friends and post on social media each time they make a page update.

Put a face on your cause

Eye-tracking studies show that people spend the most time on a web page looking at faces, particularly the eyes. Research also shows that smiles are contagious. A smile in a photo is disarming and can encourage giving. Whether it’s a photo of their niece that’s sick, their dog or themselves, the face is what enables others to relate to a nonprofit in a very human and personal way.  

Use video

Video is more engaging than a still image. People are three times as likely to click on a video on their phone as they are their desktop. When a supporter puts up a video on YouTube or Vimeo, they tell the story in a more intimate way.

Fundraise live

Charity streaming is the latest evolution in peer-to-peer fundraising. With DonorDrive’s Live Fundraising™, supporters can broadcast their fundraising live over Twitch, YouTube or Mixer and put it up live on their fundraising page. In addition the intimacy video creates, donors feel the immediacy during a real-time broadcast. We’re seeing event participants who connect Live Fundraising generate 243% more donation dollars on average than those who don’t connect.

Keep going when goals are broken

Goals are meant to be broken. There’s an excitement in beating a fundraising goal and then raising it higher to beat it again. 


Hear more from John Haydon about developing engaging content that ties to your nonprofit's story. Watch the webinar replay here. 


Ultimately your story is your fundraisers’ story. Fundraisers are more than a megaphone for your organization’s cause. There’s a reason they’re committing to join your cause, and that reason is the root of their story. Help them find it. Show them how they can own it. When they do give them the best resources and tools to tell their story well and be heard, it will be hard for anyone to resist listening. 

Ready to learn more about how DonorDrive can help you?